The Emotional Power of Color

There is something to be said of a Creator Who cares enough for our pleasure that He gave us the gift of our senses. They say the gift of smell has the most powerful ties to memory. Maybe. After all, I have wonderful memories that flood my mind when homemade bread, apple pies and other pastries stimulate my olfactory senses. And the TASTE! I have heard that the gift of hearing is the last thing to go when facing death. Touch can bring pain or comfort. But the gift of vision – what a gift! It is so complex that close to a third of our brain is devoted to it.

Untitled-Grayscale-01The emotional impact of color hit me surprisingly this morning. A sunrise this morning greeted me – beautiful, but I was struck by a memory of a 1963 Pontiac Catalina (or was it a Bonneville). When my dad brought it home, the first thing he did was open up the hood – but we were all impressed when he opened the trunk and sat in it with room to spare. A large family on vacation appreciates these points. The mafia would had treasured the roominess of it over resorting to a panel truck. But what hit me this morning was the memory of that deep, deep midnight blue. You know – the color of that blue-black stallion or the almost black suit that draws the viewer in. Detroit knew how to crank out beauties back then. The they knew how to use the baby blues and bubble gum pinks we see in the sky today. Looking at the cars today is very uninspiring.

blk & wh tree

Life Without Color

Now, using black & white photos is great when I’m checking my values on a difficult subject I’m drawing but- Can you image if we only saw in “black & white?” There would be no need for hair dyes and fabrics would stress pattern over color. TV’s would still be in black & white – let alone HDTV and HGTV would have a fourth of their audience when designers show landscapes in a spectrum of grays.  Function over beauty would be the dominant motivator in design and art would have a totally different focus. (This coming from a graphite artist! But even my eye can see the warmth and coolness of different “leads.”)

I mean, it’s as if you watch I Love Lucy for years and then find out, “She’s a beautiful redhead!” Even when I listen to music, it stirs images of color in my brain. Why is black so grim and domineering while greens are used for calming atmospheres?   It’s hard to imagine that color actually brings out emotional responses but they do.

The eye’s cones are a wonderful gift (I knew there was a reason I loved cones), and we are fortunate that we have cone receptors for red, green and blue; thus able to appreciate 7-10 million different colors! Dogs and some others animals have only two. A few have four and some see wave lengths we can’t – like bees. An interesting website on color is: http://www.colormatters.com/color-and-vision/look-inside-the-eye

butterfly treeSo, the next time you are enthralled by a sunset or captivated by the iridescence of an Indigo Bunting (bird) or butterfly, thank God for the ability to see color and ENJOY!

1-time for breakfast - Copy

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How do You Know You’re Right?

Seeing art from the viewer’s eyes-
So, I’m painting a seascape – rather fun. I feel my blood pressure lowering with each stroke I apply. But I know not to rely on my immediate satisfaction. Sometimes in art I will view it upside down or in front of a mirror to CHANGE my PERSPECTIVE. The technique really is an eye opener and I find myself shortening the nose or moving the tree over. I found a website last week when I was looking for some equine inspiration. Horse Trainer Rick Gore has a page called “My Random Horse Thoughts” and the material in it is so mind compelling! (The link is:http://www.thinklikeahorse.org/Horse_thoughts.html)

I think this cartoon explains what I’m saying perfectly.

Everything is relative depending on who you are, what your background is, what your level of understanding is and what you believe to be true. Perception is reality. In the painting above the Rhino is only painting what he sees from his position. Others see what he is painting differently. Who is right?

Everything is relative depending on who you are, what your background is, what your level of understanding is and what you believe to be true. Perception is reality. In the painting above the Rhino is only painting what he sees from his position. Others see what he is painting differently. Who is right?

So – How Do You Know You’re Right?
What did you think 2013 would bring you? The same job? Same home? Same health? Same health care? So, we were wrong about a few things. You probably worried about what the year 2013 would bring. Did any of the worries come true? Maybe some did – a lost of job or decline of health, but you’re still here. You can let it get you down or surrender to what you think is a downward spiral of fortunes.

 

Perspective changes everything!
We all have been there. We see catastrophe all around us and a true friend will say to you, “It’s not as bad as you think.” Usually we find little comfort in those words, but then when we realize there are other tests to redeem our unpreparedness, other boy/girl friends to prove their faithfulness, and other chances for the body to heal and ways to cope with change – so – ah-ha! Life isn’t so bad after all!

 

There’s a song I use to sing as a child that adults sometimes forget –

 

“Why worry, when you can pray, trust Jesus, He’ll lead the way.
Don’t be a doubting Thomas, rest fully on God’s promise.
Why worry, worry, worry worry – when you can pray!”

 

The cartoon above stated perception is reality. But outside of what the artist renders as reality, that’s not often the case.  (If  it were true, car accidents would be rare, indeed!) Maybe if you and your friends can’t see the glass as half full, trust that God does (He probably sees the glass as FULL!) and He will care for you. Try seeing life from the Great Artist’s viewpoint.

John 10: 9  “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.   27  My sheep hear  my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:   28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

 

 

 

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Wrapping up Christmas and Scoring Big in 2014

Do you remember the day-after-Christmas as a child?

It can be a big let down. As a child I probably got everything on my list. I didn’t want anything more, yet the let-down feeling was there. Why? Looking back, it probably was because there was no need to anticipate. The activity of anticipation brings excitement into the dull, everyday events of life. Children know these days as filled with chores of making of beds, washing dishes and the hated task of folding socks. (I still hate folding socks to this day. What’s the use, they never match!)

The value of anticipation.

Anticipation is part of “HOPE” when you think about it. You expect a change, hope for something different. The artist expects to be delighted with the finished project. Anticipation drives the brush or pencil towards the image in the mind. The same goes for the composer.

Maybe it’s the hopeful look of appreciation in the receiver’s eye’s that drives the giver to shop and wrap each present. I wonder what God anticipated that first Christmas. Does He even do that? Did He think of the joy of having a restored relationship with you? And me? The human psyche is a complex subject, yet I have confidence God understands it all. So much of His design for worship fills the needs of the human to understand his place in the relationship with God.

Long term VS Short Term Goals – IT’S RELATIVE

Mothers of toddlers have ONLY short – very short-term goals – such as going to the bathroom before the next catastrophe. For the child, each day drags on forever. Lunch is way out in the future. Supper will never come.

The act of anticipation is a serious, long term commitment to a six year old.

2013 ornament

The little track house made big memories.

I remember my siblings and I would insist on decorating the obligatory shrubs in suburban landscaping. The snow would settle on top of the large colorful bulbs and when they were plugged in, it looked like five, humungous M&M cookies lining the front walkway. We watched our Dad string them up and we waited for snow.  When it came we were ecstatic. So it made sense to give this memory back to our parents this Christmas.

So, maybe looking forward to meeting goals gives us the same excitement and sense of satisfaction as adults.

If that’s the case, I’m making both long term and short term goals to fill my life and keep me young at heart and mind.

Artistically, I would like to complete at least eight pieces this year – 3 acrylics, 2-3 pastels and the rest in graphite and/or  inks. Motivation for this should be easy since I’m starting a commission piece this week. Musically,  I would like to take 4-6 of my arrangements which have been floating around in my head (a dangerous place to store anything valuable) and notate them for solo piano. Some of my goals may be very dull to you – organization, for example – and one challenging – memorization of more Scripture. (I’m still working on Philippians 4:5-11).

What goals have you set? I’d love to hear of them.

May your days be blessed and have a joyous New Year.

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What is Christmas Anyway?

 

What is Christmas Anyway?

 

I remember teaching from a Christmas favorites book and my piano student asked me why do we celebrate Christmas. So I told him that it is a day to remember the birth of Jesus. He countered with “Who’s he?” I have to admit, I was a bit stunned, but thought maybe he’s Jehovah Witness or something like that and I tried to form a brief answer to the nine-year old sitting on my piano bench. “God sent His Son Jesus to earth to die for our sins. Jesus came as a baby and this is the way we celebrate the event. That’s why it’s a joyful time.”a-Light Echoes from Red Supergiant star V838 Monocerotis - Copy

 

I wanted to say it’s the most important act God ever extended towards mankind. I wanted to say that when I heard the Christmas story one year, it dawned on me how bad I must have been for God to resort to such extreme measures. I wanted to tell him how much joy there is in believing that God wants the relationship between mankind restored and that it can be – and has been for so many.

But I figured parents pay me to program their children to learn piano – not preach to them or give a testimony, so I did keep the answer “bare bones.” 

 

Not enough.

The parent talked with me about his plan to raise his son with no exposure to religion. When piano books are riddled with “Silent Night” and “Away in the Manger” it’s hard to ignore the reason for the celebration. It doesn’t matter, he had chosen the book and the child picked the song and I respectfully listened. But inside I thought, “It’s like going to a party but you don’t know who it’s for.”

God – the greatest Visual artist

 

Proof#1

 

I am glad our God is bigger than our opinions – and our imagination. Who else, other than God, would think to stoop to the level of a baby in a manger to paint the word “LOVE.”

 

All our altruistic depictions are nothing more than adaptations of “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” You must admit, Hollywood falls way short of inspiring in how it portrays love. I”ll take God’s definition any day.

 

It would be interesting to know:

 

How would you depict love in visual form?

 

until then – “Have a Joyous Holy-day!

 

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How Does One meet A Day of Infamy? A Study in Contrast.

FDR said we will always remember this day as a day of infamy. The attack on Pearl Harbor was brutal, almost entirely unexpected and it roused the “sleeping giant.” The Great Depression and WW2 made the 50’s so much sweeter. But where is this giant the Japanese admiral spoke of? For the most part, today’s Americans are oblivious to the nation’s financial and leadership crisis. Many are struggling to find employment and cope with new governmental regulatory changes.We are in a darker period in America and many fail to see it, yet-

In all of this we are to still give thanks.

I am beginning to think God is One Who sees the glass as half full. (I’m slow.)

Our neighbor called this week to say their grandson’s Neuroblastoma cancer has returned. This is devastating. It is times like these we can focus on the good care available and the happy times Connor brings to those around him. For these we can be thankful. For those who care, updates on his condition and how to pray for him are in: https://www.facebook.com/PrayingForConnerHill.

Our lives are much like a work in progress. Good works or art consist of a delicate balance of light and dark, bright and somber. Can Debussy’s “Claire De Lune” draw the listener in if no notes on the bass clef existed? Visual artists know that beginning artists struggling with the use of contrast but it is the very use of this element that takes the artwork to the next level.  See the difference in the drawing below.

bad drawing Untitled-Grayscale-close-upGod puts the dark strokes among the light ones in our lives to paint a picture to glorify Him. It’s hard to appreciate the darker strokes in our lives, especially when it touches such young, innocent lives.

After all, if God can only be a good God in the good times, He’s not much of a god when the hard times come.  So have faith in God’s goodness and let’s pray for Connor and the many others like him -maybe it’s you – and give thanks to God for the blessings He has showered down on us and for holding His loved ones through the dark times.

                                                                                                                                 

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Thanksgiving

What IS Thanksgiving?

Today, in the midst of baking rolls and pies, it is good to to rest the feet and reflect on what Thanksgiving means. Of course, we can say we’re thankful for family, friends, our freedoms as US citizens, health, possessions and jobs, but what if we don’t have them? Can we still be thankful? Consider this-

Martin Rinkart was a pastor at Eilenburg, Saxony during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). Because Eilenburg was a walled city, it became a severely overcrowded refuge for political and military fugitives from far and near. As a result the entire city suffered from famine and disease. In 1637 a great pestilence swept through the area, resulting in the death of some eight thousand persons, including Rinkart’s wife. At that time he was the only minister in Eilenburh because the others had died or fled. Rinkart alone conducted the burial services for 4480 people, sometimes as many as 40 or 50 a day!

During the closing years of the war, Eilenburg was overrun or besieged three times, once by the Austrian army and twice by the Swedes. On one occasion, the Swedish general demanded that the townspeople make a payment of 30,000 thalers. Martin Rinkart served as intermediary, pleading that the impoverished city could not meet such a levy; however, his request was disregarded. Turning to his companions the pastor said, “Come, my children, we can find no mercy with man; let us take refuge with God.” On his knees he led them in a fervent prayer and in the singing of a familiar hymn, “When in the Hour of Utmost Need.” The Swedish commander was so moved that he reduced the levy to 1350 thalers.

This is the servant God used to pen the words:

“Now thank we all our God With heart and hands and voices,

Who wondrous things hath done, In whom His world rejoices;

Who, from our mother’s arms, Hath blessed us on our way

With countless gifts of love, And still is ours today.

O may this bouteous God, Through all our life be near us,

With ever joyful hearts And blessed peace to cheer us;

And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed

And free us from our ills In this world and the next”

Martin Rinkart (1586-1649)

Translated by Cathrine Winkworth (1827-1878)

(Taken from “Crusader Hymns and Hymn Stories. Hope Publishing. 1966)

Walled in, no freedom, no food, little or no family, jobs, possessions and health, yet they gave thanks to God. God tells us in 1Th 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” It is obvious that a thankful heart is not based on circumstances but perspective and frame of (spiritual) mind.

My prayer for you this thanksgiving is not that you will have an abundance of things and happy circumstances, but you will know that no matter what your life brings, God is always the certainty of love, grace and forgiveness. Maybe that’s what Martin Rinkart knew.

As my husband, Glen, and my worlds fill with challenges, it is good to take pleasure in the small ways laughter comes to us. Since I have no piano students this year, art projects are filling the hours (as if they needed filling!) I leave you with a pastel still in progress of the one that spends the most time with me-Kansa.

Kansa - 9 x 12 pastel portrait

Kansa – 9 x 12 pastel portrait

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The Morab

Since I was a child I loved drawing and horses. I guess this combines the two.  In fact, the subject combines two breeds – the Arabian and Morgan, thus,  the Morab breed.  There are so many horse breeds out there and so many beautiful horses. There are probably a few ugly horses, too; however, their hearts are beautiful.  Not many animals have served us as faithfully as the dog and horse. Today the equine family generally is raised for pleasure.

The MorabThis blog is to introduce you to my artwork. So, check out the art pages.  I hope you enjoy and I’d appreciate your feedback.

Head study of a breed of horse having at least 25% of only the following two breeds – the legendary Arabian and the remarkable Morgan. Original graphite for sale, 10″ x 13″

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Roots-part One

The Brookville Homestead

My husband and I had the privilege of staying with his aunt Darlene Phelps to attend the Memorial Day service held at the Mulberry Cemetery, locally known as “The Yordy Cemetery.” That Sunday night was spent hearing her tell of old times, sweet times and it was a wonderful bonding of two generations.

Monday my husband gave a good reminder of the undervalued contribution made by those most generous who fought for our continued freedoms. Afterward we drove by the old homestead whose appearance shows the neglect of the present owners due to very hard times. No longer visible are the flower beds and peacocks, pear blossoms and sheets on the lines. It was hard to find good photos of the place, but my husband’s cousin Sue Jameson came through in fine style – as usual – and I was able to document the homestead during Dwight and Irma Yordy’s years.

Brookville sketch small

First began the sketch. I used watercolor pencils. (Thank you, Celia. I love using them).

barn added-small

The time went quickly and I was rolling on when I realized it was past time to photograph the addition of the barn and trees behind the house.

The Cottonwoods on the side of the house are also started and the blush of Grandma’s roses can be seen to the right of the house.

layout complete

The tree trucks are more defined and the leaves are started. The detailing to the house is barely getting underway at this point. I am still trying to figure out how to handle the tangle of foliage behind the house.

contrast started

There is a long way to go before the contrast is set. I start by darkening the trees on the right and bushes in front of the house.

Also, shadows on the porch roof and ground are added.

The foliage around the grain barn out back is darkened along with the tree trunks in the foreground.

Brookville Homestead -Facebook copy

It is slowly taking form.

After adding more contrast with both watercolor and India ink, the painting achieves the finished look I was going for.

Here it is framed and ready for a generous aunt. Hope you enjoyed sharing this journey with me.

Holly Yordy

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What do you value?

We just passed the season of gifts and giving. What was your favorite gift? My husband and I had the privilege of spending time with both our children and their families. That’s priceless. You only have a set time to create certain memories and this year my husband and I tried to make as many memories as possible.

But what else do you value?

Time

Have you ever been discouraged about your studio practice?

In my early years of teaching I would bring my husband to work and go home. Then I would teach my lessons and go home – only to turn around and get my husband at 11 pm and travel home. We could only be a one car family at the time, but we made my teaching piano work. However, several times I would drive up to a student’s house only to find they were out (The mother wanted to go to the mall.) – or still in bed! I decided to end the madness and only teach at home.

The wasted gas stopped; however, there were still calls canceling because students didn’t practice or worse yet the no-shows. I bawled in private but was gracious to those that little valued my time. But help came.

A colleague told me, “If you don’t value your time, the students will never value it. Charge them for their missed lessons.” So after five years of teaching I finally wrote a studio policy. Who would have thought boundaries bring…

Freedom.

When you know what the rules are you can point out to the parent the policy and say, “You agreed to these terms and I still get paid whether you practiced or not.” When I was called to jury duty, I reimbursed my students. My time became a commodity of a set value and my students, the parents, my family and myself knew what value I put on it.

Opportunity

Then there are the scholarships. I made it a practice to give greatly reduced rates or free lessons to one or more individuals each year. Over time I saw the result of my generosity. With one, maybe two exceptions, of the dozens given – the students didn’t value their opportunities. I sat amazed at the gifts given to them and the way they squandered their time and lessons. They were some of the most ill-prepared students and what once was desired became an annoyance to their daily schedule.

So, if I really feel the need to offer scholarships, then I have a 3 strikes policy. The first lesson they come unprepared I warn the student. The second lesson I give a written warning to the parent stating the scholarship is in jeopardy. The third lesson (and not necessarily consecutive) and the scholarship is withdrawn.

It may sound cruel. I am a soft soul and have given latitude for mid-terms and injury but what do I teach them to value if I don’t value the opportunity I have given to them?

I would like to know what you value? How do you protect what you value?

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Visits in Time

The Catalyst

I just returned from a visit to my two Texan sisters. I am 3 dozen eggs lighter on the return and a couple bags of clothing heavier from Deb. I brought the eggs down to prove to Deb that baby chicks don’t hop out when you crack them just because we offer fertile, free-range eggs. At least I spared her the goose eggs.

Yes, it was hot, Yes, we spent most of the time chatting in the pool. Yes, we had fun. Topics ranged from the July 1st death of Peter Falk (I love Columbo movies) to childhood neighbors trying to sell their houses. In fact, some topics brought up would never have crossed our minds a decade or so ago. Normally, the time would be ripe for old-age jokes, but just telling you – we compared 401K and retirement plans, wills and those golden year aspirations.

Repertoire

Change is inevitable. We’re not just talking sagging bodies here. Circumstances change and shape our outlooks. Life experiences shape our coping mechanisms, our likes and dislikes. The song we obsessed over as a high school student seems silly now. Yet, we involuntarily respond to “That Song” that symbolized a bond we had with special people in our lives.

Now my brother may have played “Ole Yeller” until the record warpped but I couldn’t stand songs that made me cry. Give me “Along Came John” over “God Didn’t Make Little Green Apples” any day. Of course, my genre really included “Climb Every Mountain” and “To Dream the Impossible Dream” but I grew up in the age where the pop culture did not speak for me. Other than “Hey Jude, and “I Want to hold Your Hand” I couldn’t name the top hits except for Simon and Garfunkel’s two songs I liked: “Sounds of Silence and “Like A Bridge Over troubled Water.” I still prefer sacred, religious and inspirational music (along with the classics) that carried me past my school days through my adult years.

What are your favorite songs over your lifetime?

As a musician, do you try to update your repertoire? If you haven’t mastered playing by ear, have you purchased music you love and learned it – memorized it? This is the time. No classes. No grades. Just your heart wanting to speak through the keys. Try it.

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